August 17, 2015
Lumps of Cole
Tonight's slate presents an interesting mix, with a bounty of intriguing arms yet the ripple effect is to ding bats who are facing tough opponents. There are few opportunities to exploit platoons tonight, with quality lefties such as Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir taking the hill as well as the fact that so many of the pitchers going today have minimal splits (or lack the track record to trust those splits). Let's dive into tonight's player pool.
Temper: LHB's Brandon Belt 1B ($4200, +116 OPS and +.021 ISO career vs. RHP), Brandon Crawford SS ($3700, +0 OPS and +.017 ISO vs. RHP), and Gregor Blanco OF ($3200, +48 OPS and +.016 ISO vs. RHP) against RHP Michael Wacha ($10100, -106 OPS and -.062 ISO career vs. LHB)
Wacha has a career platoon split that leans heavily in the reverse direction, partially thanks to a devastating changeup that is particularly effective against left-handed batters. Belt is often a target when he carries the platoon advantage, but the inverted tendencies of Wacha combined with the right-hander's overall effectiveness stack the odds against the left-handed bats of San Francisco. This season has been a breakout for the Giants shortstop, but Crawford's career OPS is exactly the same versus left- and right-handed pitchers while his component ratios are within five points of one another; he might be less impacted by Wacha's peculiar profile. If you're looking for a target in this ass-backwards situation, consider Buster Posey, whose own stark platoon split heavily favors southpaws, but who has proven adept at hitting hurlers from both sides and who has wrecked changeups from right-handers in his career: a .364 batting average and a .603 slugging percentage in 121 at bats that ended on a change-up from a northpaw.
Avoid: LHB's Robinson Cano 2B ($3900, -113 OPS and -.057 ISO career vs. LHP) and Kyle Seager 3B ($3800, -107 OPS and -.045 ISO vs. LHP) against LHP Cole Hamels ($10500, -58 OPS and -.024 ISO career vs. LHB)
The prices on both Cano and Seager are very reasonable, even considering their respective struggles this season, but they will likely battle to earn their salaries given their stark platoon splits and the quality of the southpaw that they face. There are reasons for optimism, starting with Hamels' relatively non-specific domination of hitters and following with his recent lack of performance (Hamels has given up four or more runs in four of his last five starts). If the southpaw is still off his game then anyone in the Seattle lineup could benefit, but the Seattle lefties are unlikely to lead the charge.
Target: A.J. Pollock OF ($4700, 29-of-35 SB this season), Paul Goldschmidt 1B ($5200, 19-of-24 SB), Chris Owings 2B ($2800, 13-of-16 SB) and Ender Inciarte OF ($3700, 12-of-19 SB) against RHP Gerrit Cole ($10600, opponents 19-of-25 SB this season)
Cole has now given up 40 steals in 51 attempts over the last two seasons, covering 45 starts, as controlling the running game is one element of his game that has not improved despite the fact that fewer runners are reaching base this season. The Diamondbacks have a number of stolen-base threats as their 102 team steals rank second in baseball, and the top thieves on the ballclub also happen to be middle-order hitters rather than simple table-setters. Given the difficulty in scoring off of a pitcher of Cole's ilk – he has allowed three or fewer earned runs in all but one start this season – Arizona might employ the running game to greater extent, in order to make the most out of their on-base opportunities.
Last 21 games (21 starts): .392/.463/.823 in 95 plate appearances
Back on July 22, Papi was hitting a measly .231/.322/.430, but his recent hot streak has raised his season slash-line to .263/.352/.509. In his last 21 games, Ortiz has nine homers and seven doubles to go along with 19 runs scored and 28 RBI, plus his 13 walks (five intentional) outnumber his 10 strikeouts over that stretch. The Red Sox offense exploded over the weekend, scoring a ridiculous 45 runs in a three-game set with Seattle, and they had scored another 30 runs in the five-game stretch that preceded the Mariners series. Just when it appears that he is going to be sucked into the abyss of age-related decline, big Papi goes on a tear to remind us all that he's still got it. Ortiz could be a monster if the Boston offense keeps firing on all cylinders.
Avoid: RHB Carlos Gomez OF ($4200) against RHP Erasmo Ramirez ($6000)
Last 23 Games (21 Starts): .182/.217/.261 with one homerun in 93 plate appearances
Gomez hasn't hit a lick since being traded to Astros (.183/.210/.267 in 63 plate appearances), and his slump extends back before the trade. The last 23 games have been especially brutal, including 22 strikeouts and just four walks over that stretch, and his season OPS now stands at a measly 704. At least he's quieted some of the critics regarding his potential hip injury impacting his stolen-base totals, as Gomez is four-for-four in steal attempts this month after going just two-for-four in 50 games before the calendar flipped to August.
Target: LHP Carlos Rodon ($6700) against the Angels of Southern California
I would only target Rodon in large-scale tournaments given his propensity to walk every batter that he sees, but the exploding slider and mid-90's heat can be dominant at times. There seems to be an equal likelihood that Rodon will put up a negative score or will post 30-plus fantasy points (as he has done twice in his last four turns). He's the ultimate GPP play, to roster on a low-investment lineup with high potential payout, one that can be hand-waved away if Rodon implodes yet gains substantial benefit if it's one of those dominant days. I won't be rostering him in cash games, though, because of the volatility.
Temper: RHB Adam Jones OF ($4100) against RHP Sonny Gray ($11900)
Jones' salary had been hanging out in the $3800-to-$4200 range for about a week, a very reasonable sum that put him on the short list for value-prices to target. His price tag suddenly shot up to $4900 for yesterday's game against Kendall Graveman and the Athletics, an imposing jump that likely scared off a large portion of potential DFS managers, but Jones responded with a pair of homers among three hits on Sunday while bringing in 37 points on DraftKings. He faces a much tougher pitcher in tonight's contest, but with five homers in his last six games and a seasonal slug that has bounced back above .500, Jones is in a good position to bring positive return on the investment at $4100.
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